Thursday, April 3, 2008

Not feeling so smart right now, am I?

Remember way back in September when I was running around à la Chicken Little telling everybody, “NARA's fees are rising! NARA's fees are rising!” I felt oh so smug because I had ordered ALL my direct ancestor's pension files before their cost exceeded the gross national product of Lichtenstein.

Except, of course, in January I uncovered a GGGG grandfather who at the age of 42 enlisted as a Private in Company D, 194th Infantry Regiment Ohio. He served a little more than six months — ordered first to Charles Town, W.Va. and then after General Robert E. Lee's surrender, to Washington D.C. Not only that, but there are three brothers or possibly cousins who also served at the same time in the same unit.

I am practically salivating over the prospects except that it would cost $300 to order all their complete pension files and another $100 for their compiled military records. AARRGH!!!!!!

But of course, I can't beat myself up for being a few months too slow in discovering ole Nimrod. (No really, that's his name.) But I might want to whack myself in the forehead for not reading carefully the information on the 1812 pension files.

I have found only one ancestor that enlisted during the War of 1812. Ezekiel Anderson died after serving a little over five months at Fort Findlay in 1813. I had read that Congress passed legislation in 1871 and 1878 concerning pensions for the 1812 Veterans and their widows. Since Ezekiel died in 1813 and his widow, Margaret Scott Anderson Isenhart had passed away in 1863, I mistakenly thought there would be no pension file.

When I finally renewed my subscription, guess who popped up in their “US Pensioners, 1818-1872” database — Margaret Isenhart, widow of Ezekiel Anderson. Double AARRGH!!!!!

I went back to NARA and double-checked. Sure enough, there was an act passed prior to the 1812 War that allowed pensions and land bounty grants for veterans and their widows. To quote NARA about these pensions:

Of the two, the widow's or minor's application is potentially the richest in genealogical information. This is because the widow had to provide proof of marriage, including the date or place of marriage, and usually the maiden name. Important data about marriages before 1815 found in some of the files may not be available anywhere else.

It makes a person positively giddy to think about what MIGHT be in Margaret's pension file. Fortunately, pensions prior to the Civil War cost only $50. What's fifty bucks?

So what have we learned?

1. I am not as smart as I think I am. (But you knew that already, didn't you?)

2. I need to find a new, fully loaded piggy bank to break.

3. Smugness is a sin that seldom goes unpunished.

Your formerly smug friend,
Desktop Genealogist

Note this post first published online, April 3, 2008, at Desktop Genealogist Blog at The News-Messenger Online

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